SDCC Interview with ‘Leprechaun: Origins’ Director Zach Lipovsky

pic cred to toplessrobot

WWE Studios and Lionsgate have come together again, to bring us an all new Leprechaun movie called “Leprechaun: Origins,” which stars WWE wrestler, Hornswoggle (Dylan Postl). You may have remembered the very cheesy Leprechaun films from the 90’s, well this one is different. Completely different. I had the privilege to sit down for a round table interview at San Diego Comic-Con, with the director Zach Lipovsky, and here’s how it went:

When asked on how he went about doing this film and how it compares to the original movie franchise:

“Is there a way of doing something legitimately a horror film, an R rated, scary, grounded, kind of Guillermo Del Torro style, horror film? Rather than something that’s more like what they did really well in the previous franchise [campy], and this one, this is our way of updating it for today. Something that isn’t just a little guy in a suit. This one is something that is actually going to terrify you and scare you, horrify you. So, that challenge was what excited me about it.”

When asked about working with Hornswoggle and having to make him different from his character on TV:

“The really cool thing about Hornswoggle is, he started his career as an nonverbal entertainer and so he really knows how to communicate with the vibe, the body language and all that kind of stuff, and in this take of Leprechaun, it is much more of a creature, a nonverbal creature, that’s going to crawl out and so all of his talents, even though he is under 3 hours of makeup and really transformed into this disgusting creature, his talent as a performer, really came through and not only that, but his ability to ┬áhave endurance. He’s an incredible athlete and also will never complain. He’s worked so hard to get to where he is. So, often we had to look out for him (laughs) because he’s like ready to do any stunt, ready to work for as long as it takes cause he wants it to be as good as it is and a lot of it comes from the endurance those superstars have to have to get to where they are.”

On the violence of the film:

“Yeah, the violence of the film was all approached from the perspective of what can we do that is unique to this feature? What can we do that no one has ever really done before, that you can only do in this movie? So, a lot of that is…I don’t want to spoil it but a lot of that has to do is how gold is used in the film, as well as what the leprechaun is trying to get from other people. What I think what people like from these films is, the film isn’t necessarily ultimately gory. It’s not a torture porn movie, it is much more in the style of ‘Jaws,’ like slowly reveals some deaths early on but don’t necessarily see the explicitness of them. It doubles the suspense as you go through, so by the time there are some of the more iconic, really graphic elements, that make it an honest film, you’re more heavily invested in those rather than having been desensitized by seeing twenty people tortured before the 10-minute mark or something. So, it’s a bit more paced out than other films and also a bit more specific to what we are trying to do.”

Asked if he went with the mythology of the leprechaun:

“Yeah, the cool thing was, it’s ‘Leprechaun: Origins,’ so it is what is the origin of this myth. Like today, a leprechaun is something that’s on cereal boxes and everyone kind of has a pretty light perspective and so, maybe like three-thousand years ago, the Celtics met something in a deep dark cave, that was actually pretty scary and from there, elements of stories they told, became the belief what the thing we kind of have today. So, we were really looking for something that had kind of biological origin to it that could be something legitimate that could terrify you but still have the elements enough that you can recognize it as a leprechaun but without giving away three magical wishes but still be true to something.”

I then asked him if he was a fan of the original franchise:

“I wasn’t that familiar with the original franchise, which is why I think of of the reason why I was able to come at it with a fresh perspective. I then, quickly watched them and got into them as much as I could. There are a lot of nods to the original franchise in kind of ways that fans would noticed but not necessarily story elements but like iconic props in the background, character names, that kind of stuff. Like there’s a tricycle in the back in a scene (laughs). Stuff like that and trying to be true to the roots but still taking a really fresh perspective of where we’re going.”

Asked about the rest of the cast of the film:

“Some of the really cool things is that I grew up in Vancouver, there are some really amazing actors in Vancouver and often, they are kind of playing secondary roles to a lot of the American stars that come in and it’s so cool to be able to bring in some amazing actors that I’ve grown up with and that I know, and give them bigger roles. There’s some really awesome parts, especially Gary Chalk who is a very famous actor in Canada and does one of the Optimus Prime voices, who was also in ‘Conan,’ who plays this really awesome Irish character, a great human antagonist in the film. And all the kids in the film are really good too. We were able to give them kind of their first breakout role, it was really fun and they were all willing to basically do anything they could to make this something that’s hopefully going to really impress people. I’m kind of hoping people tune in, and they’re expecting something kind of tongue and cheek, then are slowly horrified as they realize that they’ve shouldn’t have (laughs).

About the location of the film:

“The film takes place in Ireland. We found areas in Vancouver which has kind of a farming area near by. Most of the film takes place at night, so tons of atmosphere, smoke and things that give it that ancient feel. There’s a little fiddle music in the background and we sell it pretty well.”

W asked if he’s hoping that this becomes a franchise:

“i think the whole idea that this is an origin story, which means it’s the first in the beginning of a new series of films. Not many of the people survive to the end of the movie (laughs), there’s definately room for it. This film is more about revealing the creature and giving it a name, setting up where it came from like other origin stories, I think now there’s the opportunity to see where that can go from here. If it interacts with the audience, then it makes sense that there’s more story there to explore. There’s no laid out plan to what exactly those stories would be but there a mythology that we created just like the original.”

Who his horror influences were:

“When I was a kid, my mom took me to see ‘Jurassic Park,’ it was the first movie that I seen other than Disney movies like ‘Aladdin.’ I was covering my eyes, my mom is covering my eyes (laughs) and I was crying. And my mom was cursing the guy who had recommended this. The cool thing is by the third act of the film, when they got to the fence and they feel like things are going to be fine and I remember feeling like I’m still alive. I was so scared by the T-Rex but i’m here and this is awesome (laughs) you know what I mean? So I had that transition from sheltered kid movies to really realizing the power of it , in that film. There’s a scene in the film [Leprechaun: Origins] that’s a direct homage to the T-Rex scene but with the leprechaun (laughs).

When asked about what the hardest part of shooting the film was:

“There’s huge stunts in the film and Hornswoggle (Dylan Postl) wanted to do all of them and like you know…you have to shoot tomorrow! I know you [referring to Hornswoggle] can do it but we have people here that can also do it too. A lot of it was making sure just to get the prosthetic…it’s tough when you’re doing a horror film just to get the prosthetic down really well, especially when you take a lot of time. Usually you don’t have a lot of time. So, a lot of stunts went off while but a lot of the time getting the gore right, to where it looks good, that was probably the hardest part. Even though there I’m a digital effects guy, I come from really strong digital effects background and that’s usually why I’m hired. In this case, we really wanted to go with the practicality in getting that gore right.”

When asked about the filming and editing process:

“Yeah, my style I come from a much more Spielbergian style, like almost adventure films now and things of that genre. It’s definitely a film of suspense, rather than an intense film, rather than just go, go ,go ,go. There’s definitely high energy sequences but um…I don’t have a cut every few seconds. Definitely I pride myself in shooting films that are quite beautiful and a lot of time you want to let those times play, but you gotta cut sometime (laughs). I think people will be surprised. When you’re making a film, you start with everything in your mind of everything you want to do and really the process of making this film, is the narrowing of that. Like okay, this is what we can actually put in a script, this is what we can actually shoot, this is what we can get away with. Then you get to the editing part and you narrow shots down that you can’t fit in, then you get to the end of the edit, and then you put in music and sound (laughs). It’s the first time that you are actually putting stuff in and really bringing it to life. That’s when you’re putting things into it, instead of taking things out and making it bigger and better. It’s often a very rewarding.”

“Leprechaun: Origins” comes out on VOD & Digital HD August 26 and on Blu-ray/DVD Sept. 3o. The film will star Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, Brendan Fletcher, Teach Grant, Andrew Dunbar, Stephanie Bennett, Melissa Roxburgh.

Here’s the synopsis provided by WWE/Lionsgate:


Backpacking through the lush Irish countryside, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town’s chilling secret. Ben (Andrew Dunbar), Sophie (Stephanie Bennett), David (Brendan Fletcher) and Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) quickly discover the idyllic land is not what it appears to be when the town’s residents offer the hikers an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, the friends will find that one of Ireland’s most famous legends is a terrifying reality.

Here’s the official trailer: